Last week we began a series of blogs about the impact of local news on neighborhood perceptions and how different media styles affect community engagement. The last blog discussed media coverage in Denver, Colorado. This week Mateja takes our analysis to Slovenia.
by Mateja Mihinjac
Like in many other parts of the world, Slovenian daily news likewise has disproportionately covered the Ukrainian war for over a month. Sadly, local crime remains uninhibited despite this global crisis. In fact, it is possible that crime may increase during these times or shortly afterwards.
ARMED ROBBERY OF A JEWELLERY STORE
One news story that raised eyebrows was a brazen armed robbery of a jewellery store committed in daylight adjacent to the city’s municipal building.
Two robbers, one of whom was armed, tied up an employee and then escaped via the historic part of the city. There was a description of the two perpetrators, however, readers commented that this was of no use since the perpetrators would have already disguised themselves once they escaped. Those responsible for the robbery have not yet been apprehended.
As in last week’s blog, reader comments also mentioned police issues. Readers complained that police foot patrols that were once present in the city centre are now absent. They believed such a presence could deter crime and provide reassurance to city-goers. There is scientific evidence supporting these comments. Research shows that police foot patrols can help reduce robberies.
This story reports on a domestic homicide from last year when an 80-year-old man murdered his sleeping wife by repeatedly hitting her on her head with an axe. The story reports details of how he hit her at least 34-times causing her to die at the scene. The story questions whether the accused will be fit to stand trial considering his frail health and possible impaired judgment at the time of the act. The report offers a dry description of facts.
While the cases of domestic homicide are difficult to comprehend, they are sadly all too common and have increased in Slovenia during COVID lockdowns. Domestic violence most often occurs behind closed doors and in neighbourhoods where people are disengaged from one another. In Slovenia, it is not uncommon to expect that what happens at home is a private matter, especially in rural areas.
The final news story involves a 25-year-old perpetrator who broke in, stole items, and then set fire in several locations across Ljubljana city centre including the COVID test location, a market stand, and a rubbish bin. The perpetrator was apprehended owing to witness information about his movements. The rest of the report provides basic facts about the event and the police statement. Readers’ comments, however, are highly judgmental about the apprehended young man and suggest he must be bored for engaging in such acts or that he needs to “learn to do some real job”.
This case attracted extra attention as the country is currently on high alert for forest fires, so any open fire is strictly prohibited. Over the past two weeks, firefighters had to extinguish several forest fires and police suspect these fires have been set intentionally.
I am lucky to live in a fairly safe country. The national homicide rate is around 1 per 100.000 inhabitants. Rates vary by city (the capital city Ljubljana’s rate is below 1 while Celje’s – the third-largest city – is 2.6) but overall serious crime is rare. Unlike the situation in Denver reported last week, in Slovenia the rarity of shootings and homicide is reflected in scarce reporting of serious crimes in the news media.
However, there are some implications from Slovenian news not directly mentioned in these reports. They are obvious to those of us engaged in SafeGrowth programming:
It might be too early to tell what impacts the current war will have on local crime trends, however, one thing is certain. We should not disregard the impacts of global affairs. Our neighbourhoods are not insulated from their surroundings. Spending extra attention on community-building and creating resilient neighbourhoods is the best insurance policy against the potential post-war effects of increasing crime and the worsening news headlines that may become a new reality.